Don’t Diss Darwin

| 71 Comments

As everyone in the science blogosphere knows by now, banana man Ray Comfort, he who cannot understand sex, is planning to distribute on the order of 170,000 (his claim) copies of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in late November on various U.S. and Canadian university campuses. The book is prefaced by an introduction (2 Meg PDF) by Ray that contains the standard creationist argle bargle.

NCSE has created a page in response called Don’t Diss Darwin that has a variety of resources and suggestions. It has an appropriate flier, posters, and a lovely banana bookmark ready for downloading.

Most important for our immediate purposes, it contains a list of universities currently targeted. That list is reproduced below the fold. (I note that Lehigh is on the list; I wonder if Michael Behe will avail himself of the opportunity to learn some evolution.)

I urge scientists and interested folks on the infected campuses to seek immunization from the NCSE page.

Hat tip to Florida Citizens for Science.

US (19 Nov)

1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Yale University (CT)
4. Stanford University (CA)
5. University of Pennsylvania (PA)
6. California Institute of Technology
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA)
8. Duke University (NC)
9. Columbia University (NY)
10. University of Chicago (IL)
11. Dartmouth College (NH)
12. Washington University in St. Louis (MO)
13. Cornell University (NY)
14. Brown University (RI)
15. Northwestern University (IL)
16. Johns Hopkins University (MD)
17. Rice University (TX)
18. Emory University (GA)
19. Vanderbilt University (TN)
20. Notre Dame (IN)
21. University of California - Berkeley (CA)
22. Carnegie Mellon University (PA)
23. University of Virginia (VA)
24. Georgetown University (DC)
25. University of California–Los Angeles (CA)
26. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
27. University of Southern California (CA)
28. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (NC)
29. Tufts University (MA)
30. Wake Forest University (NC)
31. Lehigh University (PA)
32. Brandeis University (MA)
33. College of William and Mary (VA)
34. New York University (NY)
35. University of Rochester (NY)
36. Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)
37. Boston College (MA)
38. University of Wisconsin–Madison (WI)
39. University of California–San Diego (CA)
40. University of Illinois–Urbana - Champaign (IL)
41. Case Western Reserve University (OH)
42. University of Washington (WA)
43. University of California–Davis (CA)
44. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY)
45. University of Texas–Austin (TX)
46. University of California–Santa Barbara (CA)
47. University of California–Irvine (CA)
48. Penn State University–University Park (PA)
49. University of Florida (FL)
50. Syracuse University (NY)

Canada (24 Nov)

1. Ottawa University - Ottawa ON
2. Carleton University - Ottawa ON
3. Queen’s University - Kingston ON
4. University of Toronto - Toronto ON
5. York University - Toronto ON
6. McMaster University - Hamilton ON
7. Guelph University - Guelph ON
8. Brock University - St. Catharines ON
9. U of Western Ontario - London ON
10. Concordia University - Montreal PQ
11. McGill University - Montreal PQ
12. U of New Brunswick - Fredericton / Saint John NB
13. Memorial U of Newfoundland - St. John’s NL
14. Dalhousie University - Halifax NS
15. University of Manitoba - Winnipeg MB
16. U of Saskatchewan - Saskatoon
17. University of Alberta - Edmonton AB
18. University of Calgary - Calgary AB
19. Simon Fraser University - Vancouver BC
20. U of British Columbia - Vancouver BC
21. University of Victoria - Victoria BC

71 Comments

Heh.

I notice that texas university in Austin is being targeted, but Texas A&M and Texas Tech are not. I wonder if that says anything about the gullibility of the students of that school up in Austin…

(Gig’Em Aggies)

This is the biggest piece of crap I have ever seen and I’ve seen lots. The fact that this guy thought that anyone would be stupid enough to fall for this sham shows the low esteem in which he holds the intelligence of the average citizen. Unfortunately, half of the people in this country do have below average intelligence, so he probably will eventually find sumeone stupid enough to fall for this.

The intoduction contains every creationist misconception and misrepresentation known to man, Including:

p. 9 “sheeer chance”

p. 10 “sheer accident”

in relation to DNA. Didn’t this guy even read the book? Hasn’t he even heard of natural selection?

And in relation to transitional forms:

p. 14 “missing links have been debunked”

p. 15 “different animals with similar hearing ability”

The latter describing transitional forms between whales and terrestrial mammals. I mean seriously, anyone who tries to justify the ear bones of whales and whale intermediates this way is either too stupid to breathe or too dishonest to be allowed to waste the air he breathes.

This is a great opportunity for the insanity of creationism to be exposed to the general public. Show these scoundels up for the lying hypocrites they really are. Make them explain why they wasted so much money on distributing these lies when they could havce funded research of even education.

I just forwarded a link from here and NCSE to Gary Bradford at UBC evolutionary biology.

And Arne Mooers at SFU.

Neither of my schools, University of Colorado and Air Force Academy are on the list … should I be insulted or grateful?

Genie Scott debates Comfort in Dan Gilgoff’s column in US News and World Report here, here, here, and here. Comfort–no surprise–reveals himself as an ignoramus.

If there is any good news, it is that Gilgoff asked his readers in a poll, “Will You Read Creationist Take on Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’?” As of now, 78% of an unknown number of respondents answered No.

Dr. Scott has more patience than I.

They are accepting donations to purchase them, and their goal is 250k. They are charging $5 per book, so they didn’t waste a dime. In fact, if they hit their goal of 250k books, they will have made 1.25 million dollars tax free.

Ha! Caltech! Do they think that the boys and girls in Pasadena need more scratch paper? (Maybe they’ll use it as wadding for the Fleming House cannon.)

Well, both my local Unis (#1 and #2 in Canada list) are in the Bananaman’s sights, as is my first alma (#3). We’ll have to see what we can drum up.…

Does it say anywhere where at these universities Comfort will be giving out the books? Because I’ll be visiting my undergrad then and I want to seek them out and call their bullshit.

Oh, yeah, and Dr. Hintz at UVic, too.

Where did the list of schools come from? For the US schools, it appears to be simply a regurgitation of the first 50 schools in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of national universities. I’m dubious and would wager that Ray’s minions won’t be anywhere in sight at most of the listed schools. It’s a ploy to sell more books.

Michael

Michael Tuite said:

Where did the list of schools come from? For the US schools, it appears to be simply a regurgitation of the first 50 schools in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of national universities. I’m dubious and would wager that Ray’s minions won’t be anywhere in sight at most of the listed schools. It’s a ploy to sell more books.

Michael

As noted above, the list is from the NCSE link.

I’d like to be there at the University of Michigan when they try to hand out something that says that intermediate forms do not exist on the same campus where Phillip Gingerich works and where some of fossil iintermediates are actually on display. That would be a real hoot. That would be like the flat earthers meeting Columbus on his return and claiming that he was an imposter because the real one fell of the edge of the earth!

I, for one, welcome the Banana Man to the Controversy. He’s such an extreme farce that it’s now easier than ever to debunk creationism.

DS said:

I’d like to be there at the University of Michigan when they try to hand out something that says that intermediate forms do not exist on the same campus where Phillip Gingerich works and where some of fossil iintermediates are actually on display.

In fact, Eocene Dorudon atrox is prominently on display in the Museum of Paleontology.

That would be like the flat earthers meeting Columbus on his return and claiming that he was an imposter because the real one fell of the edge of the earth!

Then Philip Gingerich would get to punch out Ray Comfort and everyone would cheer.

Isn’t the simple fact that Comfort’s introduction is massively plagiarized the most damning argument? Add to that that they’re asking for donations of money for it. Most rank-and-file evangelical types do care about people not lying, so if they hear about this they may have a negative reaction to Comfort’s self-publicity scheme.

Anyway, who is to do the distribution on campuses? Has he employed people to do it, or is he relying on local Campus Crusade types? If the latter, they might be less than enthusiastic when the plagiarism is pointed out.

hat would be like the flat earthers meeting Columbus on his return and claiming that he was an imposter because the real one fell of the edge of the earth!

The reason Columbus didn’t fall off the edge was that there was another continent in the way. ;)

Henry

Joe Felsenstein said:

Isn’t the simple fact that Comfort’s introduction is massively plagiarized the most damning argument? Add to that that they’re asking for donations of money for it. Most rank-and-file evangelical types do care about people not lying, so if they hear about this they may have a negative reaction to Comfort’s self-publicity scheme.

Anyway, who is to do the distribution on campuses? Has he employed people to do it, or is he relying on local Campus Crusade types? If the latter, they might be less than enthusiastic when the plagiarism is pointed out.

That’s a good point which should be communicated to whatever campuses they’ll be handing this dreck out on (this might be hard to determine, since per Michael Tuite’s comment above, the list of schools appears to be just another of Comfort’s lies), because plagiarism is something which is much in the forefront of most college students’ minds as something to be avoided, regardless of personal beliefs.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Isn’t the simple fact that Comfort’s introduction is massively plagiarized the most damning argument?

I feel like I’ve missed something.

Wheels said:

Joe Felsenstein said:

Isn’t the simple fact that Comfort’s introduction is massively plagiarized the most damning argument?

I feel like I’ve missed something.

I was too terse. Comfort’s 50-page introduction to the Origin is apparently a massive cut-and-paste job with a small number of words changed, drawn from sources which did not give him permission to copy their words.

Students on these campuses would be being asked for “donations” to buy it (and the public-domain text of the Origin). They might want to know what they’re buying. If local fundamentalists are roped into distributing the book, they might have second thoughts if they found out that the introduction was not what they thought it was.

Similarly, I’d love to be there when they try the “no transitional forms” BS at the University of Chicago where Jerry Coyne, Paul Sereno, and Neil Shubin all work.

Off topic, but I can’t resist. The whole Columbus/flat earth business annoys me to no end. Every year I have to explain to high school students that the Portuguese refused to finance Columbus because they knew his proposed voyage was impossible with existing means. They knew the earth is spherical, and they had a much better idea of its size than Columbus did. They thought he would die somewhere at sea long before reaching Asia. Magellan proved them right. Even a century later Francis Drake had no easy time of it.

Richard B. Hoppe Wrote:

I wonder if Michael Behe will avail himself of the opportunity to learn some evolution?

Depends on what you mean “learn.” He has been “learning” evolution for decades, for the sole purpose of taking facts and quotes out of context, baiting-and-switching concepts and definitions. If he “learns” anything new from this it will only be to help him misrepresent it a little better.

More importantly, this should be an opportunity to alert people that, despite the common goal and many similar tactics to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution, Behe and Comfort disagree almost completely on “what happened when” in biological history.

Richard B. Hoppe Wrote:

I urge scientists and interested folks on the infected campuses to seek immunization from the NCSE page.

While they’re at it, they might invite Behe and Comfort to debate each other on their irreconcilable differences. It would be interesting to see which one chickens out first.

Maybe we should get NCSE to go to the two hundred largest fundy churches in the country and pass out copies of The Origin - without the fake introduction. Of course that would only be an effective strategy if you could find enough churches that had a problem with the theory of evolution. Somehow I don’t think that that would be a big problem.

If anyone finds this suggestion offensive, then perhaps you are getting the idea.

Of course I also like the idea of standing up in the choir with a sign giving the latest football score at Sunday services. Think about it.

Similarly, I’d love to be there when they try the “no transitional forms” BS at the University of Chicago where Jerry Coyne, Paul Sereno, and Neil Shubin all work.

Wouldn’t it be great to get some fossil casts and follow the book distributor around campus with a placard stating “Banana man says this transitional fossil does not exist”?

Matherly said:

Heh.

I notice that texas university in Austin is being targeted, but Texas A&M and Texas Tech are not. I wonder if that says anything about the gullibility of the students of that school up in Austin…

(Gig’Em Aggies)

Gig em!, class of 78, geology

DS said:

Maybe we should get NCSE to go to the two hundred largest fundy churches in the country and pass out copies of The Origin - without the fake introduction. Of course that would only be an effective strategy if you could find enough churches that had a problem with the theory of evolution. Somehow I don’t think that that would be a big problem.

If anyone finds this suggestion offensive, then perhaps you are getting the idea.

Of course I also like the idea of standing up in the choir with a sign giving the latest football score at Sunday services. Think about it.

all you have to do is see what’s on tv on sunday morning and the biggest southern baptist churches. Dallas and Houston would be a good place to start. Colorado Springs (ted haggard’s home) would need to be visited also.

Comfort is boring. I prefer Michael Ruse’s most unusual “dissing” of Darwin. He recently wrote, “Today, thank goodness, not one item of Darwin’s thinking remains intact; but, at the same time, everything that Darwin had to say is as vital and relevant as it ever was.”

Frank said:

Comfort is boring.

Yes, and knows no biology. But he seems to be a genius at publicity. Ken Ham had to build a multimillion-dollar museum, but Ray Comfort got more publicity by making a three-minute video (in science it is sometimes said that to get a lot of citations, write a paper that makes a famous mistake).

Now he has us all fired up with his list of colleges and his “free” book. But Michael Tuite (above) pointed out that the list is just a recycling of the US News and World Report list of best colleges. Is anybody going to show up and distribute the book on them on the 19th? One wonders.

What is not intact is Darwin’s supposition that his observations of adaptive change in species can account for historical biological development.

How does Thornton’ or Lenski’s work demonstrate unguided, purposeless historical biological development?

Darwin’s logic was dulled by his emotions. I suspect the logic of many posters on this board is dulled by their dislike of fundamentalist organized religion.

Whatever the case may be, you cannot logically conclude that what you see in the miscroscope today is evidence of historical biological development.

Behe is right. There is an edge to evolution. Molecules have a limited range of choices to deal with mutations and there is a threshold they cannot break through.

Sorry if that empirical evidence bothers some.

Logic is brutal and oblivious to worldviews.

What part of “Darwin’s thinking” do you suppose Ruse means is not intact, if not the ideas that he wrote about?

Behe is right. There is an edge to evolution. Molecules have a limited range of choices to deal with mutations and there is a threshold they cannot break through.

Could be. After all, we don’t see animals with wheels. Or with metal alloy armor.

But if there’s an unbreakable barrier of that sort between protists and today’s animals, nobody has demonstrated its existence.

Henry

Steve P. said:

Behe is right. There is an edge to evolution. Molecules have a limited range of choices to deal with mutations and there is a threshold they cannot break through.

Sorry if that empirical evidence bothers some.

Logic is brutal and oblivious to worldviews.

So how come neither you nor Behe can’t be bothered to identify what this alleged barrier to evolution is?

Steve P. said:

What is not intact is Darwin’s supposition that his observations of adaptive change in species can account for historical biological development.

I have no idea what is meant by the extremely vague phrase “historical biological development”. Do you mean the development of the science of biology over historical time? Or do you mean the development of new species by evolution over long time scales? Because if you mean that, you’re plainly, obviously wrong. Darwin’s insight (not supposition; he didn’t suppose anything) was that adaptive change in species is caused by natural selection and that this adaptive change is sufficient to account for the origin of species, given sufficient time. And that insight stands intact.

Darwin’s logic was dulled by his emotions.

This would be funny if it were not so outrageous. Patronising Darwin, yet.

I suspect the logic of many posters on this board is dulled by their dislike of fundamentalist organized religion.

Yes, it’s amazing how sheer moral outrage can interfere with the flow of cool reason, isn’t it?

Whatever the case may be, you cannot logically conclude that what you see in the miscroscope today is evidence of historical biological development.

I can only quote the President of the United States: “Yes, we can.”

Behe is right. There is an edge to evolution. Molecules have a limited range of choices to deal with mutations and there is a threshold they cannot break through.

Sorry if that empirical evidence bothers some.

This is idiotically expressed. (Molecules having choices, yet! And molecules dealing with mutations, to boot. Good grief!) Interpreted with charity, it is an attempt to state a limited truth that misleads when applied absolutely. See Henry J, above.

But more, here we also see beautifully displayed the total inability of the cdesignproponentist to understand what “empirical evidence” is. Not only has not the faintest scintilla of it been presented, but here we have Steve referring to a series of vague and unsupported assertions by that name. Plainly, he wouldn’t know empirical evidence if it reared up and bit him.

Logic is brutal and oblivious to worldviews.

One can only suggest that Steve applies it to his own.

Steve P. said:

Whatever the case may be, you cannot logically conclude that what you see in the miscroscope today is evidence of historical biological development.

A bold assertion made in the presence of people who do just that.

Can you give us the evidence that says we can’t do this?

Behe is right. There is an edge to evolution. Molecules have a limited range of choices to deal with mutations and there is a threshold they cannot break through.

Just how do you know Behe is right? Where did he or anyone else elucidate the “threshold they cannot break?” What mechanism did Behe, or any other ID/creationist demonstrate to the scientific community, and then had it verified by others, that such a mechanism indeed exists? Why hasn’t Behe won a Nobel prize for his work?

Sorry if that empirical evidence bothers some.

What empirical evidence was that? You didn’t provide any; you simply made an assertion, or parroted an assertion made by Behe.

Logic is brutal and oblivious to worldviews.

At best, you have simply demonstrated that “logic” (a chain of assertions is not logic) can be completely disconnected from reality.

Actually, it is reality that is brutal to the logical arguments from people who are completely out of touch with reality. But they don’t get to know that unless someone tells them; and even then they are not likely to believe it.

Am surprised that Comfort has omitted Stony Brook University and the University of Arizona from his list since both have first-rate departments of evolutionary biology. Does he think he can surpass Harun Yahya?

Not to mention of course too, the University of Chicago, which is, regrettably, one of William Dembski’s alma maters (Ph. D. in mathematics).

Stanton Wrote:

So how come neither you nor Behe can’t be bothered to identify what this alleged barrier to evolution is?

Like Behe, and unlike most of his cheerleaders, Steve at least admitted that whatever else beyond that elusive “edge” happened, it happened in-vivo (common ancestors and all) over a ~4 billion year period.

Unfortunately Steve disappeared from the other thread without answering my question about whether he ever challenged those evolution deniers who claim that that alternative involved numerous species arising from nonliving matter in one extremely busy week ~6000 years ago, or periodically over ~4 billion years.

If his objection is truly about the “weak evidence” - as opposed to the usual “no Darwin, no Hitler” garbage - he would jump at the chance to devote “equal time” to challenging those other “theories” that he finds at least as “weak” as “Darwinism.”

C’mon Steve. Step out of your “Ray Comfort” zone and be the first.

I’m sure it’s because Ray Comfort thinks he’s got all them red-necks in Lubbock and Bryan believing his tripe already.

(Hook Em Horns)

Matherly said:

Heh.

I notice that texas university in Austin is being targeted, but Texas A&M and Texas Tech are not. I wonder if that says anything about the gullibility of the students of that school up in Austin…

(Gig’Em Aggies)

Dustin said:

I’m sure it’s because Ray Comfort thinks he’s got all them red-necks in Lubbock and Bryan believing his tripe already.

(Hook Em Horns)

Speaking of Texas science denial, I was in Beaumont last week and had a couple of hours to kill.

I wandered into the Texas Energy Museum, which is basically the story of oil exploration in Texas and the gulf.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised that they don’t mince any words on the origin of the Earth and how petroleum forms. All their displays state unequivocally that the earth is billions of years old and the oil underlying Texas is the mortal remains of simple marine organisms dating from the time long before the dinosaurs, back when Texas was an inland sea.

They went so far as to compare and contrast the various oils, coals and shales found elsewhere in the states as far as time, means, and organisms of origin, and how that affects the finished product.

They were unflinching in their explanations of ancient geology and timelines (too unflinching, in fact. It was too much detail even for me)

They even talked about the source of the hydrogen and carbon in hydrocarbons, first generation stars.

The only place where religion even got a mention was a small concession in an exhibit a the end, which discussed the big bang. The display started with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”, but that was apparently just establishing mood, as they immediately started discussing the big bang and events thereafter in purely scientific terms.

Every once in a while, I’m actually pleasantly surprised.

stevaroni said:

Dustin said:

I’m sure it’s because Ray Comfort thinks he’s got all them red-necks in Lubbock and Bryan believing his tripe already.

(Hook Em Horns)

Speaking of Texas science denial, I was in Beaumont last week and had a couple of hours to kill.

I wandered into the Texas Energy Museum, which is basically the story of oil exploration in Texas and the gulf.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised that they don’t mince any words on the origin of the Earth and how petroleum forms. All their displays state unequivocally that the earth is billions of years old and the oil underlying Texas is the mortal remains of simple marine organisms dating from the time long before the dinosaurs, back when Texas was an inland sea.

They went so far as to compare and contrast the various oils, coals and shales found elsewhere in the states as far as time, means, and organisms of origin, and how that affects the finished product.

They were unflinching in their explanations of ancient geology and timelines (too unflinching, in fact. It was too much detail even for me)

They even talked about the source of the hydrogen and carbon in hydrocarbons, first generation stars.

The only place where religion even got a mention was a small concession in an exhibit a the end, which discussed the big bang. The display started with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”, but that was apparently just establishing mood, as they immediately started discussing the big bang and events thereafter in purely scientific terms.

Every once in a while, I’m actually pleasantly surprised.

interesting you should bring up the Texas oil industry. In AtBC, there is a thread on doing geology without the evolution bits. One of the key fossils in identifying different strata on the gulf coast are conodonts. These fossils are very age specific. so if you don’t believe in evolution, did god come down every few million years and create another one?

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